10 Lessons I Learned From The 10 Item Wardrobe

May 23, 2016

10 Lessons I Learned from the 10 Item Wardrobe. Click through to see how I created over 20 outfits that I had never worn before with clothing I already owned (Less than 30 items total)!

The 10 Item Wardrobe challenge is officially complete.  My goal was to define my style, and while I probably still have a ways to go before I’ve completely figured it out, I definitely learned a few things over the last 4 weeks.  Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite outfits from the last few weeks, as well as the Top 10 Lessons I Learned from the 10 Item Wardrobe, in no particular order.

1.)   I like contrast in my outfits.  I really like a lot of contrast in just about everything, from how I decorate my home, to art that catches my eye, to clothes I wear.  I think it’s really important for me to realize and embrace this.  I follow some really beautiful Instagram accounts that are very neutral, use a lot of white, grey and linen, and it’s really pretty.  But it’s just not me.  Of course every home and wardrobe needs some neutrals, but now I understand that in order for me to like them I need to pair them with a bold color or pattern.

The 10 lessons I learned from the 10 Item Wardrobe.

Gingham Button Up | White Pants, thrifted | Shoes, old (similar) | Earrings | Bag, old

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2.)    I don’t like flared skirts for anything other than special occasions.  I just feel too fancy, which is not the feeling I’m going for chasing two small children around every day.  I do want to feel put together, and I do want feel like I’m making an effort, but fancy is too much.  This doesn’t mean I don’t want to wear dresses or skirts at all, just a different cut.

3.)    I LOVE stripes and chambray.  Put them together and it’s even better.  Stripes always catch my eye, so matter what I’m shopping for.  I do run into the problem sometimes of not having anything to wear with the stripes because I over buy patterns.  Enter chambray.  I’m again learning the importance of some good quality neutrals to pair with all the stripes, and chambray is definitely something I enjoy wearing often.

Week 2 Reflections Striped Maxi and Chambray

Chambray, old (similar) | Skirt, old | Earrings

4.)    I love statement jewelry.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve worn two pairs of earrings for the last 4 weeks, maybe 3.  I know it hasn’t been more than 3.  I found a company last year that makes statement leather earrings and I love them.  I’m not affiliated with them, I just wear them every day because they are so comfortable and make even the most basic outfit feel special.  With my short hair, I have also found that statement earrings keep me feeling feminine.  Their earrings look great with any hair length though, check out their website at www.nickelandsuede.com.

Week 3 Reflections Jeans and a Tee

Long Sleeve Tee | Boyfriend Jeans | Sneakers, old (similar) | Earrings, old style (similar) | Hat

5.)    I like planning outfits ahead of time.  Taking the time up front to plan out 5 or 6 outfits really saved me time in the long run.  Part of the reason for that is that I had already decided I was wearing these particular items together, whether I felt like it or not.  I did not assign an outfit for each day, so I had the flexibility of choosing whichever outfit spoke to me for that day, but I eliminated my habit of trying something on and not feeling like wearing it, and then changing again, sometimes more than once.  The only exception to this was when an outfit just really didn’t work together or if an item of clothing was malfunctioning.  Like the day my crop pants turned into capris.  Planning my outfits also really helped with creativity and wearing all of my clothing, instead of just wearing the same few outfits over and over.

6.)    I have to stay on top of the laundry.  This is both a good thing and a bad thing.  Bad because if you don’t enjoy doing laundry (raises hand), it could feel like you are constantly doing laundry.  The good thing though is that you can’t create this massive amount of laundry that needs done because you don’t have that much to keep up with in the first place (23 items in my case!).

7.)    I need more basics.  I’ve already mentioned my love of stripes, and I’m often drawn to other patterns too.  But after a while, all I have in my closet are patterns and nothing goes together.  It’s important to be strategic with the purchases you make and even keep a running list of items that you wished you had over and over again (I’ll include mine below!).  Basics look different for different people, but I think that several white tops, a chambray shirt, a button up shirt in a solid color, and solid blazers or cardigans are really helpful.  I don’t know if I’m a denim jacket girl, but that’s another great example of a basic that you can wear with a lot of different outfits.

Week 3 Reflections Striped Button Down and Jogger Pants

Striped Button Up | Linen Tank, old (similar) | Necklace, Stitch Fix | Jogger Pants, old | Earrings

8.)    Purchase quality over quantity.  I’m slowing learning the value of this.  And it is possible to move towards quality in baby steps.  If you usually shop the sale rack at discount stores, consider the sale rack at Banana Republic, Loft or JCrew.   Or try the factory version of one of those stores.  Even stores like Nordstrom have really great sales and a wide variety of price points, but offer better quality than some discount stores.  I’m not advocating for spending more than your budget allows, and I’m not against shopping discount stores (one of my favorite shirts is from a thrift store).  What I am advocating is considering the cost per wear of an item, both in the quality and how much you actually like it.  For example, it’s more expensive to purchase an item that is on sale for $8 and only wear it twice because you don’t really love it or the quality is poor, than it is to buy an item that costs $40 that you love.  If you wore the $40 item 10 times it has the same cost per wear as the $8 item.

What I Learned Striped Button Up

Striped Button Up | Boyfriend Jeans | Earrings | Ray Bans

9.)    Scale is important for pattern mixing.  Each print you wear should contrast with the size of the print you want to mix it with.  For example, a big, spaced out floral and a thin, close together stripe.  Otherwise, your outfit can start to look crazy and too busy instead of collected and purposeful.  Of course, there are people out there who mix same scale prints and look amazing, but if you’re just getting started with pattern mixing, contrasting scale is good place to start.

Do This:

Week 2 Reflections Stripes and Floral Skirt

Striped Tee, old (similar) | Floral Skirt, old (similar) | Earrings, old style, (similar) | Ray Bans

Not This:

Week 3 Reflections Striped Shirt Floral Skirt

10.)    I really need less than I thought.  I ended this challenge with only 23 items of clothing.  That includes items like layering tanks, but not items like shoes, scarves and jewelry.  I didn’t go into this challenge to become more minimalist, but I think it has been a nice side effect.  After 4 week of no new clothing, not that I was a heavy shopper anyways, I realized I could create so many different outfits with just what I had.  And I didn’t have to wear the same outfits over and over.  In fact, I even have a few more outfit ideas up my sleeve.

I’m so glad that I did the 10 Item Wardrobe challenge, and I want to do the same thing with my summer wardrobe.  I do need to do a little shopping first though, I purged a lot of clothing I didn’t like last year and didn’t replace most of it.  So here is my shopping list of items I’ve wished that I had over the last 4 weeks:

Shopping list

Grey Converse
Chambray Button Up
Trench Coat (probably wait until Fall)
Wedge Sandals
flat gladiator sandals
white Tee shirt
extra layering tanks
black maxi dress
blue dress
grey dress
pool flip flops
pool cover up
Long sleeve black and white striped tee
I hope that you have enjoyed this series and that it was helpful for how you approach your own closet.  If you would like to see earlier posts in the series, you can read the intro, week 1, week 2, and week 3.  I plan on sharing updates on my summer wardrobe in the future, but not a full series like I did for spring.  I love hearing from you, if you have ever tried reducing your wardrobe or are thinking about it, let me know in the comments!

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  1. Reply


    I really enjoyed following this series! I’ve been wanting to do the minimalistic capsule wardrobe for months because I really dislike shopping and tend to wear the same 3 t-shirts over and over and don’t wear my dressier clothes like ever, but I also want to look more put together! I’m glad you documented this so I could see a real life example of how to do it with my own closet!

    1. Reply


      Thanks Kala! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m excited to go shopping with these guidelines in mind. 🙂

  2. Reply


    Congrats on sticking it out!! I loved your series & takeaways! Having a list for what I was replacing has helped me so much the last few months the instead of just blinding collecting items. 🙂

    1. Reply


      Thanks Laura! I’m so excited to start shopping off of my list too, but I plan to still keep it to a few (hopefully) amazing pieces.

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